The Daily Mail, November 3, 1913
GAME OF A LIFETIME.
CARDIFF BEATEN AT LAST
By P. G. WODEHOUSE.
Blackheath ...... 9pts. Cardiff ......... 0
You know how they do it on the stage. Curtain up on villagers and retainers; then, amid applause, enter the “star.” This is just what happened at Blackheath on Saturday. The game had been in progress for a minute or two before Cook appeared on the scene. Then he emerged from the pavilion, took his place in the Blackheath three-quarter line, and proceeded to play everybody else off the stage. On his Saturday’s form Cook could have walked straight into any international team, and no questions asked.
I am slowly recovering from the whirl of emotions induced by the most exciting match I have seen for years. My ganglions are still vibrating. Consider the circumstances. Blackheath have not beaten Cardiff since Ponto was a pup. They score a try in the first ten minutes. Then, just as they seem to have the game in hand, Cardiff rally; the Blackheath pack stop getting the ball in the scrums; and the Cardiff three-quarters attack again and again, one movement ending in Nicholls knocking down the corner flag. And in the middle of all this Stokes, running to field a punt, crashes into Coverdale and disables him. Would not that make you chew pieces out of the woodwork? Fortunately for Blackheath, skilled hands pieced Coverdale together again, and he returned to the game and, though lame, did his full share of the work.
This was not the only occasion on which Nicholls knocked down the corner flag. He did it in the first half, after Davies had reached the line. Blackheath were then three points up, King having scored in the extreme right corner after a fine straight run. It was a good dribble by Birch, who played a splendid game, that put Cardiff in a position to assail the Blackheath line. Nicholls’s effort followed immediately after this dribble. From the drop-out De Villiers, Cook, and King got away and took the game back to Cardiff territory, where Pillman nearly scored with a dribble. A mis-kick let Birch through again but Pillman saved on the line, and half-time spoiled Cardiff’s chance of pushing home their attack.
It was in the second half that the excitement really began. Up to half-time the game had been fast and interesting, but the Blackheath forwards had got the ball in the scrums with great regularity, and the Welsh outsides had had no real chance. But now Cardiff began to heel, and only some splendid tackling saved Blackheath. Then the Blackheath forwards, starting near their own line, came away with a genuine old-fashioned Blackheath rush. They went right down the field in a bunch, and were on the Cardiff line before they lost the ball. Williams (in his best form from start to finish) relieved with a long kick; and, with the game near half-way, there began the dramatic five minutes which included Nicholls’s knocking-down of the flag and Coverdale’s injury. Birch opened the proceedings by picking up from a “Soccer hack” by King. Cook overtook him on the line. The tension ended with an attempt at a drop-goal by Williams, which just failed.
All this time, at intervals, the referee had been penalising Cardiff for off-sides and foot-ups (foots-up?). Once, in the first half, Stokes had nearly landed a goal from the touch-line. Now, after Williams had knocked-on a long punt when standing well inside his own twenty-five, a scrum right in front of the posts, about twenty yards out, led to yet another free-kick. Coverdale took it and had no difficulty in dropping a goal.
This may be said to have concluded the main interest of the drama. Blackheath, six points ahead, had got together again and were controlling the game. A great effort in the last five minutes took Cardiff to the line, but Morrish passed erratically, and the Blackheath forwards, headed by Pillman and Lindesay, rushed to half-way. From there they rushed to the line, and, from a scrum, the ball came out to Walker, who scored in the left corner, the whistle going for no-side directly Stokes had taken the kick.
Cardiff played well all through, but the Blackheath forwards were magnificent, and, with Cook and his colleagues behind them, defied competition.
A side interest was added to the game by the fact that De Villiers, the Cambridge freshman, made his début at centre three-quarter. Without doing anything stupendous, he played a fine game, and should help to solve the centre problem at Cambridge.